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12 Mar, 2013

Business travel by air falls amid China’s frugality campaign


BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhua) — Sales of first and business class flights have dropped as China’s frugality campaign gathers pace beyond high-end dining, according to the country’s civil aviation authorities.

Since December, the number of business travelers on first and business class trips fell by about 10 percent compared with the same period a year ago, the Monday edition of Beijing-based Jinghua News cited Li Jun, deputy head of Civil Aviation Administration of China, as saying.

Airport VIP lounges also received about 20 percent fewer passengers year on year, said Li, who is also a member of China’s top political advisory body.

In December, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee promulgated a package of rules calling for officials to be more frugal.

Upscale restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai saw revenues fall by 35 percent and 20 percent, respectively, year on year in January, and fewer expensive dishes were sold during the week-long Spring Festival holiday in February, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Contrary to reduced business travel is the surge in air trips by ordinary travelers. During the Spring Festival holiday, the number of air-based trips rose 18 percent year on year to 6.42 million, data from the Ministry of Transport showed.

Li suggested to further boost tourism-driven mass consumption there should be improvements in the country’s system of paid vacation and levying of lower taxes on restaurants and hotels for ordinary people. Li also urged to relax restrictions on airfares to allow for cheaper flights.